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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Private Fears in Public Places (review)

Oh, I know I’m supposed to be ecstatic because it’s from French New Wave director Alain Resnais, but all I can think is that it should be called Six Characters in Search of a Reason Why I Should Care. (It’s based on an Alan Ayckbourn play, hence the bad theater joke. Sorry.) The setting is Paris, the six characters are all miserable in their own special ways — mostly to do with love gone bad, love taken away, and love that can’t be found — and in a city of two million people, they all only seem to interact with one another, though they never realize their own interconnections. That might work onstage but is simply too darn cutesy on film, which clashes with the relentless emotional misery being dished out. The cast should be lovely, are lovely, but their delicate performances are in aid of a script that takes us nowhere we haven’t been before, and with no new insights whatsoever into human loneliness or desire or desperation. If I wanted to be this pointlessly self-pitying, I wouldn’t have gone to the movies in the first place; I could have stayed at home with myself.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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